It has been a long time
since our last public meeting, when we had Mary
O’Keefe talk to us about her work as an
archaeologist, and what that can teach us about
our history. Mary currently operates a
Consultancy named Heritage Solutions but has
previously worked for the Department of
Conservation and the Historic Places Trust and
has specialised in archaeological history
especially in the Wellington region. The
presentation included detail, supported by
illustrations and photographs on the various
archaeological investigations that she has been
involved in over her 30 years work history, of
Wellington sites. She was able to supplement her
talk with anecdotal stories about the activities
carried out in inner City residences including
cottage industry in Newtown. A very well
presented delivery which gave an insight into
the daily lives of Wellington citizens in the
19th century and was thoroughly enjoyed by those
On Friday 18 October we launched the updated
edition of Karori Streets. It was well attended
and an enjoyable event, with brief speeches
given by our author, Judith Burch, and the
President. The idea to update Karori Streets was
first discussed in 2011, so the book was nearly
a decade in the works. It speaks of Judith’s
energy, persistence and dedication that we got
to launch what is really an excellent update to
the original, with additional detail and updated
with new streets, and illustrated throughout.
Please join us at our Christmas function, where
you can hear Judith tell us more about the work
that has gone in to this book, as well as
sharing some of the history and stories behind
Karori Streets. Copies of Karori Streets will be
available to purchase on the night, perfect
timing with Christmas fast approaching!
Carey Clements and the Karori
In September we held our meeting
at the Karori RSA, and heard
from Society member Carey
Clements, also a member of the
Karori RSA, who has done a lot
of research on the RSA. His
presentation traversed its
history and presence in Karori
including those Karori and
Makara residents who served in
both World Wars.The formation
meeting of an RSA in Karori was
held in 1923 which resulted in
Gordon Allan being appointed as
President and who held this
position until 1934. The
following Presidents were
similarly appointed and it was
not until 1938 that the first
fully elected President, James
Hanna took office. The present
club rooms in Campbell Street
were opened on 26 November 1938
and Karori is now the only RSA
left in Wellington with its own
club rooms.Carey talked through
the various Presidents that
followed Hanna, their background
and what they contributed to the
running of the RSA. He also told
us about some of the better
known Serviceman who live or had
lived or else are commemorated
in Karori. A very interesting
overview of this aspect of
Karori’s history and very much
appreciated by those present.
June 2019 Meeting - AGM
The following officers were elected at the
President, Adrian Humphris
Vice-President, No nominations were received
and an appointment was held over
Secretary, Henry Brittain
Treasurer, No nominations were received and
an appointment was held over
Eight outgoing members were re-elected,
Judith Burch, Peter Anderson, Jo Elworthy
Gibson, Steve Porter, Chris Rabey, Richard
Bentley, Geoff Slack.
A large thanks was given to John Harper,
who stood down after fourteen years on
committee, the last three as
Vice-President. John always ensured our
quarterly meetings ran
smoothly, and with his broad knowledge
of Karori always contributed to debate
His knowledge and support will be
missed, and we wish him well.
Our speaker in June was Peter Cooke, an
expert on Military History within New
Zealand who gave a presentation on the
history of Wrights Hill. He canvassed the
early history of the fortress and how
thought had been given to its presence in
the mid 1930’s and after the
outbreak of war, especially with the entry
of Japan in late 1941, its construction has
proceeded with the installation of two nine
inch guns out of the three planned for.An
interesting presentation on this aspect of
Karori’s history especially as there are
still aspects of it today that are open for
Our March meeting started with Adrian
welcoming guests and speaking broadly about
a number of ideas the Committee have been
This ranged from how we distribute our
annual stockade (an overwhelming request to
keep it in hard copy format!) to plans to
set up a
Friends of Karori Cemetery group under the
auspices of Karori Historical Society. There
was a general positive response to the
being established, and the Committee is
currently actively investigating how this
would be done and work.
Our guest speaker for the evening was Chris
Rabey who has had a life time interest in
Wellington shipping activities and Maritime
Chris titled his presentation “Ships that
have Passed Through Cook Straight” and was
accompanied by photographs of the many
varied vessels that had
visited the harbour, or else had only passed
through Cook Straight on their ocean voyage.
A very interesting presentation of the
Wellington shipping scene both past and
present, and thoroughly enjoyed by
Speaker for December was Barbara Mulligan who is
well known for her interest in the history of Karori
Cemetery and more latterly, the
1918 Influenza Pandemic and its impact on the
citizens of Wellington and those buried in the
From circa 2016, Barbara and a group of volunteers
had been researching the history of many of those
buried there while at the same time,
cleaning up many of the graves and restoring them to
a presentable standard. Barbara gave a presentation
and overview of the project which
had culminated in two open days at the Cemetery in
November where displays and memorabilia were on
She provided a fascinating insight into the history
of the Pandemic, its origins and how it was
transported to New Zealand and finally its impact
on Wellingtonians. It was especially interesting to
members given that the final resting place of many
of the Pandemic victims was here in Karori.
You can still access the project’s really
informative website : -
Christine Grace and the history of Makara / Ohariu
The Society has always had a strong interest in the
history of Makara. Every Stockade contains references or
articles about Makara. In 1996 we published
James Brodie’s ‘Terawhiti and the Goldfields’.
The Society’s new committee thought it a good time to
meet with Makara community leaders, to get an update on
the development of Makara and
to see whether the Society could better help resident’s
record and interpret their history.
22 members braved a dreadful winter’s night to hear
Christine Grace speak about the history and life in the
Makara and Ohariu Valleys.
Christine is Chairperson of the Makara and Ohariu
Community Board, and is a third generation Makara
resident tracing her family’s
farm alongside the lower Makara Stream to the early
Christine spoke of the evolving nature of the region –
from the extensive Maori heritage, through the early
development and the fishing and dairy farm
businesses supplying Wellington, the shift from dairy to
sheep and cattle, the military camp and gun emplacements
above Opau Bay during the 40’s,
the significance of the Post Office’s receiving stations
and the village it spawned in the 50’s and 60s, and the
increasing number of new residents who
like the rural life style but who work in the city.
Today Makara and Ohariu has a population of only 850
although it accounts for 60% of the land area of
She described the school as in a boom phase and
reflected on the number of children coming across from
Karori to be educated in a rural environment.
Christine also reflected on the wind farm - which most
had opposed - but she said they had come to live with
it, and the ongoing contributions of Meridian into
the community fund had been extremely useful in tackling
numerous community projects.
A current issue is the erosion problems facing Makara
Beach and the track around to Fisherman’s Bay. The
damage caused by Cyclone Gita earlier this year
was unprecedented and several houses were inundated by
the sea for the first time ever.
There appears to be unfinished business in interpreting
family histories and around identifying and listing
historic buildings throughout Makara and Ohariu
Some families are into their fifth generation living in
the area and the Monk family for example is planning to
restore the old church hall into a museum using
of their family’s history. The committee plans further
discussions with Christine on ways the Society can
assist the Makara and Ohariu communities.
The theme for our talk at the AGM in June was the Karori
Teachers College site. Our guest speaker was Jamie Jacobs, Central
Director for Heritage New Zealand, who spoke about the
significance of the site.
As the College had recently been sold and the entire site due
for redevelopment, the presentation was very topical.
In March Dr George Gibbs presented an entertaining talk about
his grandfather George Hudson
(1867-1946), a British-born New Zealand award-winning
entomologist and astronomer, as well
as Karori resident. George Hudson is the publisher of seven
books dealing with New Zealand
insects, which contain 3,127 painstakingly hand-drawn
illustrations. The first book was
published when George was just 19 years old, and the longest
took 24 years to complete.
After sharing some family history, George Gibbs focused
on his grandfather’s time in Karori. George Hudson first moved
Karori in 1881, building a house in Donald Street, where he
live the rest of his life. His lettuces were famous on the
he often shared the fruits of his garden with neighbours.
Being a keen astronomer Hudson built an observatory at the back
his section, which once again was well used by residents. He
success with his stargazing, for example being the first person
Zealand to have seen Nova Aquilae in June 1918. Diaries of
observations are part of the Carter Observatory Collection
by Wellington City Archives.
Gordon Hudson worked shift work at the Central Post Office
from 1883 until he retired in 1908 aged 51, so he could
on publishing. Dr Gibbs told us about the many places in
around Wellington and Karori that George Hudson used to
to capture specimens; places such as Bush Hill, Campbell’s
Stream, and the Reservoir (now Zealandia). It is not quite
where some of these places actually are now, so there was a
lively discussion trying to pinpoint some of them
The detail of Gordon Hudson’s insect drawings was
particularly given he was drawing specimens at the size
appear in his books, rather than much larger and later
down. For its wide systematic coverage as well as its
and scientific value, the Hudson Collection, now held by Te
Papa, is perhaps the best private insect collection ever
Our December meeting featured a talk by Redmer Yska, who grew up in Karori,
and has undertaken extensive research into the life of Katherine
Mansfield and recently published the book “A Strange
Beautiful Excitement, Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888-1903”.
Redmer spoke to his book about the life of Katherine
Mansfield’s upbringing in Wellington including the time she spent in
Her childhood memories are recalled especially those of her family
and how they fitted into the social fabric of the Capital at that
One especially exciting find by the author was the discovery of a
poem written by the budding Katherine that hitherto had not been
In September we were lucky enough to hear Local History and Rare Books
Librarian Gábor Tóth, Wellington City Libraries,
present to us on the Western Access Scheme.
For some time in the early 1900’s there had been agitation from
residents of the Western suburbs for a more direct route into the
City rather than the current route that traversed the longer way around
via Tinakori Road and Molesworth street.
In 1920 a survey was undertaken to identify the various options that
could alleviate this problem and as a result 17 were identified. The
most favoured involved the acquisition of land that had been set aside
as Cemetery land. A referendum was held with the intention of raising
£19,000. The results went against the Council and some work had
commenced at the Tinakori road end, the Council had to look at
alternatives.Time elapsed and the next route chosen was a new one that
skirted around cemetery land and the unemployed manpower scheme, created
during the depression, was used to undertake initial work. Although this
work proceeded there was still a problem at the City end where the
Government was not prepared to let the new road use Museum Street as
part of the route. After some negotiation the Council was able to
purchase land immediately adjacent to the northern boundary of the
Cemetery and this allowed them to bypass Museum Street. Progress
continued and after some issues with land slips that necessitated the
building of large retaining walls, the road was completed in late 1939
and then opened for tramway traffic in August 1940. Bowen Street was
named after Sir George Ferguson Bowen, New Zealand’s 6th Governor (1868
to 1873) and initially ran from the Lambton Quay gates of Parliament up
to the Terrace.
When the new road was formed in the late 1930’s it was regarded as an
extension of the existing Bowen Street and named accordingly.
In June we were lucky to hear Ben Schrader talk about his book 'The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities 1840-1920'.
Ben’s presentation took us through the early history of New Zealand and detailed the development of urban areas. He
discussed how our cities grew the way they did, in what ways did Māori experience and shape cities; and posed questions around the future of our cities and whether they reflect where we have come from.
The talk was a taster of his book, which reveals how our urban origins have shaped the people we are today. If you are interested in finding out more, or missed the talk, check out http://bwb.co.nz/books/big-smoke
Our speaker in March was Mary McEwen, who told us about her father in law, Jock McEwen,
‘If you want to have a good life, you do it helping other people.’ Jock McEwen
Jock McEwen was a administrator, historian, linguist, composer and master carver, also remembered as a well-known figure in the
Māori world and the wider Pacific for over half a century.
Our speaker in December was Gordon Tait, a long term Karori resident whose presentation was titled “Karori Cemetery Field Guide and Tour.
Gordon had prepared a number of handouts which he referred to during his talk.
The main handout covered the general layout of the Cemetery, the different types of graves, i.e. Monumental, Lawn, Wall (niche) and the War Cemetery.
Another interesting handout was a field guide to gravestone symbols and their meaning plus another being a series of 8 photographs taken around Karori
designed to test general knowledge as to whether people could recognise their location.
A well-researched and presented delivery, the handouts being especially useful as an aid for those just walking through or exploring the cemetery grounds.
At the conclusion of his presentation Gordon was thanked by Jo Elworthy and given a book voucher in appreciation.
You can access Gordon’s handouts via our Facebook page
For our September meeting we had a tour of the Wellington City Council’s Archives, based at 28 Barker Street near to the Basin Reserve.
City Archives is a treasure trove of information documenting the history and development of Wellington. Primarily holding records of the
Wellington City Council and its predecessor organisations (including Karori Borough Council), the Archives also hold the records of the
Union Steamship Company on behalf of Museum Wellington, as well as a small collection of community archives.
After a talk by the president outlining the work Archives does, what records they hold and how the collection can be accessed and researched,
members got to browse selected items from the collection and go on a tour throughout the premises.
The Archives are located at 28 Barker Street, which is off Cambridge Terrace by the Basin Reserve.
You can find out more via the Council website: http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/archives
Barbara Mulligan and David Cuthbert gave an insightful presentation on ‘ghost’ branch railway lines across New
Zealand. This was linked to the book they published, New Zealand Rail Trails, which explores the long
forgotten railway branch lines, some of which date back to the 1870s.
The speakers covered both a history of the growth then decline of the rail network, as well as an overview of
their journey across New Zealand to discover and document the lines.
Our speaker in March was Glenn Reddiex, author and Karori resident who spoke about his recent book “Just to Let You Know I Am Still Alive – Postcards from New Zealanders during the First World War”
The book is dedicated to World War One postcards mostly sent back to New Zealand by Servicemen serving stationed in Egypt, Gallipoli, France, Belgium and England. It is richly illustrated showing not just the illustration on the front, but the message written on the back, mostly to family and relatives.
It presented a fascinating glimpse into an ordinary soldier’s life and daily routine without the horror of war as this was excluded by censors.
His website is www.postcard.org.nz to find out more online about Glenn.
We had a good turnout for our December talk, which saw Dr Chris Pugsley, an expert on New Zealand Military history,
present a fascinating account of “New Zealand’s Experience at Gallipoli”
Dr Pugsley canvassed the Gallipoli campaign from the outset of WWI in 1914 and the lead up to the
NZ Expeditionary Force setting out for Europe and while in Egypt, its diversion to the Turkish front in
conjunction with Australian and other British Forces.
He spoke of the battles NZ troops engaged in, the loss of life and the general conditions that the soldiers were
forced to suffer.
A frequent visitor to the Gallipoli Peninsula, Dr Pugsley was able to supplement his oral presentation with many
maps and photographs extracted from the numerous books he has written about the NZEF in WWI.
A most interesting presentation given in the centennial year of the Gallipoli Campaign.
Oliver Sutherland presented a talk on ‘Ivan Sutherland (1897-1952): academic and social
activist'. The talk outlined in fascinating detail the range of activities Ivan took on or was
involved in, from attacking the rise of the eugenics movement, campaigning for public radio
and helping to launch the Wellington Film Society. Together with friend and colleague
Professor Philip Robertson, he was a patron of the controversial Wellington-based English artist
His commitment to social psychology drew him into the world of Ngati Porou where Sir Apirana
Ngata became a second mentor and lifelong friend. In his 1935 publications The Maori
Situation Sutherland denounced pakeha ‘racialism’ and affirmed his commitment to a
bicultural New Zealand and to Ngata’s vision for the economic, cultural and social development
June 2015 Meeting - AGM
The following officers were elected at the AGM:
President, Adrian Humphris
Vice-President, Jan Heynes
Secretary, Henry Brittain
Treasurer, Valerie Carter
One committee member resigned, Jeni Bryant, and we had a new committee member
elected, Wendy Lynch. We welcome Wendy and pass on thanks to Jeni for her
time on committee.
We had a number of speakers in June, all with the theme of war-related stories. Kay
Klitscher spoke about white poppies and white feathers. Peter Anderson
told us about three of his relatives who served in both World Wars, with
accompanying memorabilia including a photograph of his grandfather’s war
service scroll, a carved tokotoko (walking stick), a carved smoking pipe
and a bugle. Bob Cameron gave a power point presentation about the WWI
letters written by Leslie Gower, which Bob recovered from a suitcase at a
Dunbar Sloane auction. Bob was then responsible for locating some of Leslie’s relatives.
Adrian Humphris and Geoff Mew, authors of Built Wellington - Raupo to
Art Deco gave a very interesting power point presentation about their
latest book. It is a very comprehensive history featuring some of the most
prominent architects in Wellington and their buildings together with
illustrations of these.
Vincent O’Malley gave a very
interesting and comprehensive talk about ‘the upsurge of interest in the
New Zealand wars’ particularly relating to the Waikato region. The
Waikato war was important as it was a turning point in the development of
NZ and lead to the capital shifting to Wellington, and the introduction of
Julius Vogel’s schemes. But until recently these wars have been
sanitised and attention has been on commemorating WWI. However, Vincent
considered that there is now a more even handed effort to acknowledge what
Vincent’s talk created a considerable amount of discussion amongst members.
Dr Rodney Grapes talked on ‘The 1848 earthquakes and the destruction of
Wellington’ He described a cluster of earthquakes that occurred in
Wellington between 16 and 26 October 1848. Some of these were quite
severe, probably bigger than the later 1855 quakes, and caused
considerable damage. The Lt Governor of the day, Eyre, undertook a survey
of the damage and then sent a report back to England outlining the events.
This created some apprehension amongst intending immigrants but with no
long term effect. The earthquakes were not just confined to Wellington but
also to the top of the South Island where damage was recorded as far south
as Kaikoura. Judge Chapman wrote about the earthquakes in his journals
which also give an interesting record of life in the 1840’s.
Priscilla Williams, former diplomat and current president of the
Bolton Street Cemetery, gave a very interesting and informative talk about
the history of the cemetery, referring in particular to the role which the
late Margaret Alington had played in ensuring the preservation and
documentation of the tombstones, writing a history of the cemetery –
Unquiet Earth – and the establishment of the Friends of the Bolton
Judy Siers gave a very
lively and interesting presentation about the work she has done preparing
for the publication of her forthcoming book called Arrivals: Six
Judy was a Wellington City Councilor for a number of years in the 1990s and
became the Council’s advocate for Wellington heritage and history. She
was also a member of the Onslow Historical Society and its president for a
number of years. She has been a member of the Historic Places Trust since
the 1960s and a member of the committee.
What a great meeting we had in December. We thank all our loyal
members and friends who came to hear our speaker and to celebrate our 40th
birthday. How lucky we were to have Norma McCallum and her husband with
us. As the Society’s first president Norma has a special place in our
history and we were very pleased her husband was able to persuade her to come for a
mystery drive. She was also thrilled to receive her life membership
certificate and to help in
cutting our celebratory cake.
Julia Millen was a very lively speaker
and brought to life the story of Sergeant Bruce Crowley DCM, a New Zealand
prisoner of war in Greece and Germany who escaped from captivity. She has
written a book about him (North to the Apricots) and members were able to
purchase copies. Bruce’s son Grant was also present and he was able to
fill in some gaps about Bruce as a father and to show some family
Tricia Laing spoke about ‘Karori Bees and Beekeepers’: where they are located in Karori and the
importance of backyard beekeeping. She showed photos of her hives, and
discussed the life cycle of bees and some of the challenges bees and
beekeepers face in Karori.
Susan Price spoke about the childhood
of her father Hugh Price who had had a difficult childhood in Masterton
because of mobility problems and unsympathetic school teachers. She based
her talk around the book she had written ‘A Mind of his Own’ and
illustrated it with photos from the book. Hugh became a well know
publisher in Wellington in his adult life.
Joanna Newman from the Mt Victoria Historical Society gave an illustrated talk
about aspects of Mt Victoria's history and its importance to Wellington.
The main focus of the talk was on the Basin Reserve Heritage and the
values of this iconic area of Wellington.
Trevor Morley was a very entertaining speaker and as well as giving an
excellent account of policing in Wellington in the early 1900's.
He also brought along some of his collection of artefacts, including old Police
truncheons. His account of the events leading up to Constable Dudding's
murder reminded us of the changes which have taken place in policing. We
also heard that it was due to Trevor's persistance that policemen who
had been murdered in the course of duty were recognised by the police
Our speaker was Lydia Wevers, the title of her talk was 'Sensation
Novels and Colonial Readers' - about reading in the nineteenth century
in relation to her book Reading on the Farm.
Professor Wevers is Director of the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand. She is
a distinguished post graduate researcher and writer with a long list of
published work on New Zealand and Australian literature; several of the
books have focused on early New Zealand travel writing and writers.
Our speaker was John Harper, committee member and Emeritus Professor of
Applied Mathematics, Victoria University of Wellington. His topic was Transits of Venus
As there will be a transit of Venus the day after the meeting and there
will be no more over the next 100 years, John's talk is very
appropriate. It will emphasise matters of historical interest rather
than astronomical technicalities and cover questions such as: What are
they? When do they occur? Why are they important enough for expeditions
to be sent to observe them? Why did Karori's most eminent historian ask
the speaker about them? What does one see? How was New Zealand affected?
Our speaker was Vicki Treadwell, British High Commissioner spoke to us about
her diplomatic career. This was a fascinating and entertaining account
from a highly experienced diplomat.
Our speaker Richard Nanson gave a very interesting and informative talk
about his own career, over 50 years and something about the history of
the garden at Homewood. Richard was head of the WCC's Parks &
Recreation section from 1967-92. He was made a Fellow of the Royal NZ
Institute of Horticulture in 1970 and became a member of the Order of
New Zealand in 2011 for services to horticulture. Following his talk we
enjoyed refreshments in the reception room at Homewood.
Our speaker was Jenny Jones, who spoke about her book "No
Simple Passage", the story of her great-grandparents journey to
New Zealand on the London in 1842.
Our speaker was Joseph Romanos, editor of the Wellingtonian and
Karori resident. Joseph gave an interesting, informative and witty talk
aboout his involvement with the publication of books, about sport and
the triumphs and disasters that inevitably occur.
Our guest speaker was Janice Shramka (Karori West Normal School Principal), she spoke about her
use of the Woolf Fisher Fellowship for overseas study travel. She visited schools in Canada and the United Kingdom and attended
a course at Harvard entitled "Leadership: An Evolving Vision".
Guest Speakers: there were two speakers, Adrian Humphris and Geoff Mew, joint editors of the
book “Ring Around the City” which outlines the growth of Kilbirnie and Kelburn in the early part of the 20th century.
Adrian’s address focused on how the transport system, especially tramcars, opened up the city and suburbs, while Geoff
concentrated on the style of homes that were built during this period. Both speakers complimented their presentation with power point photographs.